By April of 2002, Anne would only be Chief of the 251st for a few more weeks. Thomas Flint was still Sergeant, and he and Anne spent most of their time working with the recruits. A few changes had to be made to the division during that time too. Enough soldiers were being promoted or had taken extended leaves that there weren’t enough bodies to field the three fireteams anymore. After consulting with Command, they decided to dissolve the fireteams entirely and put all of the recruits back under one structure.
With the spring/summer slack in activity coming, and the Champion Spawns available to UO players with the Third Dawn expansion, Thomas’s player had begun to expand on his plotline that would lead to missions in Ilshenar. He posted several stories to build the basic storyline, and in game, Thomas filled Anne in on what needed to be done. Although she had originally suggested taking the recruits to barracks in Jhelom to familiarize them with the town better, Anne abandoned that when Thomas wanted to quarter them in the Twin Oaks Tavern instead. With Command’s approval, the Recruits Division began preparations for the move.
Also early in April, Anmoch joined the Warders alongside Barristan. To have two of her friends in their elite ranks was a minor point of pride for Anne. However, she was very daunted by the additional Oath that Anmoch had taken. She knew their attraction to one another was still developing, but how did you get closer to someone who had taken what amounted to an oath of death? Especially one that was reasserted every time he went into combat?
Fortunately, Anne’s job kept her from lingering on that subject overlong most of the time. If that wasn’t enough to keep her occupied, a large wrench, with poor Thomas’s name on it, was thrown into the works and would disrupt the recruits mightily.
The Undead, Acting Sgt, and Anne’s Pin
Anne and I weren’t present for the beginning of things (my play schedule often meant I missed some really good stuff, dammit), but Anne arrived at headquarters on evening to discover that everyone was in turmoil. The Undead had apparently worked some dark sorcery after capturing four of the Roses, including Thomas. They then compelled the soldiers to attack Winterfell and more specifically, the Regent. The lot of them had been subdued and arrested by the Kingdom. The Winterfellians refused to believe that Undead magic was the cause. As the bad blood over the Major hadn’t yet faded, Anne was furious. She certainly wasn’t alone there either. But given how that campaign had ended, and the General’s harsh reminder of their Oath, Anne tried to cling to her training and await orders. To her bafflement, Major Shadownspawn himself gave the order to sit and wait. Although it took every ounce of restraint she could muster, Anne did let slip one pointed statement while waiting for the Roses to be taken to trial.
Anne Savant: I would rather think this Regent of theirs will show some common sense.
Anne Savant: If we wanted her dead, she would have been taken by more than four of us.
Anne Savant: And she WOULD be dead.
Anne’s opinion of Winterfell had hit a new low after Shadow’s imprisonment. She held out a small shred of hope that sanity would reign, especially if the Undead’s influence could be proven.
In that same vein, as they waited for the outcome of the trial, everyone was surprised when the Major issued new orders that any available Rose was to be escorted to a shrine of Virtue. Once there, they were required to speak the mantra of that particular shrine. Anne was baffled by the requirement until someone explained that the Undead had used some type of parasitic creature to control the wayward Roses. The shrines could potentially discover anyone else who might be under Undead control and perhaps even destroy the creatures. The NCO’s rounded up the Roses they could find, since the CO’s were occupied, and cleared everyone.
The trial was still underway by the time they returned to headquarters. Feeling her own restraint slipping, and seeing the others seethe, Anne took some advice from now Warder Coisich and took everyone available to Ice dungeon. It was nothing more than a distraction to keep everyone in line, and the outing ran well once people had their minds on the present task. The only unusual event was Dack Tyler collecting a huge mass of cheese from the ratmen who lived in parts of the dungeon. Anne was vaguely amused as he tried to consume or pawn off that cheese for a long while after.
On their way out of the dungeon, word came in about the verdicts from the trial. Two of the Roses were cleared, but Thomas and Corporal Geminus were both found guilty. Thomas, much to Anne’s pride and consternation, offered to accept the penalty for everyone, and he was sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment. The recruits beat a hasty retreat back to headquarters to wait anxiously for Command’s decision on the Society’s reaction. Most everyone expected a violent response. While they waited, Anne was shocked to hear from Thomas himself as he had not been answering his comm link previously. Thomas asked her to serve as acting Sergeant for the division while he was confined. Sickened that there was even a need for it, Anne reluctantly agreed. She could never turn down a request from her superior and friend, and she realized with a heavy heart that she was now responsible for seeing through his plans to take the division to Ilshenar – even if her motivations to go were nowhere as strong and directed as his.
Daunted by the tasks ahead of her, Anne decided that she needed to nominate a second-in-command, even if the role would be as temporary as she hoped hers would be. She could have gone to the ranks of senior Roses, but Anne decided to follow Thomas’s example and promote from within. She reviewed the Private 1st Classes who were nearest to promotion out of the 251st, and she quickly decided upon Kheldar deRies. While she didn’t know the Private too well outside the Division, which was her own fault, Anne felt he was reliable and confident. She also had noticed that many of the other recruits seemed to respect him and follow his lead at times. Anne then approached Kheldar with the proposition, cautioning that everything was subject to Command’s approval and his own promotion to Armsman 3rd Class. Kheldar’s response was surprised, but he agreed.
If there was any ambiguity about Anne filling Thomas’s shoes during his imprisonment, it was short lived. Command chimed in when Major Shadowspawn finally arrived from Winterfell. He immediately laid out how things would be.
Shadowspawn: [Major, BRS]
You see: Shadowspawn
Kenyon: *Stands at Attention*
Shadowspawn: you are now in charge of the maggots
Anne Savant: Understood, sir.
Shadowspawn: There will be no breaking Thomas out
Shadowspawn: Do I make myself clear?
Shadowspawn: DO I
(As usual, Shadow received a quick agreement from those present)
Shadowspawn: Patience will be watching him…
Shadowspawn: if he is mistreated in any way shape or form
Shadowspawn: we will sack that city
Shadow then reiterated that all Roses be taken to the shrines. He was adamant that anyone who refused was to be killed immediately and their bodies be burned. Needless to say, no one ever refused to go!
Frustration ran high among the Roses on hand, but there was absolutely nothing for them to do. Command had spoken, and no one was to rock the boat with Winterfell. The soldiers began to disperse to find what rest or relaxation they could. Still tense, Anne found herself along the shoreline near headquarters with Anmoch, watching the recruits wander off. As angry as she was with the situation, and as reserved as Anmoch normally was, Anne could tell the night’s event weighed heavily on him. That prompted this short conversation.
Anne was flattered that Anmoch offered to teach her how to ride. He wasn’t the first person to make such an offer, to be honest, but having it come from him meant a great deal. Anne knew that being stationed at the Twin Oaks would keep them separated from even the random assignments they occasionally worked together. Even if the physical distance wasn’t there, she would be far busier trying to manage the division without Thomas. Giving him her pin was a spur of the moment decision. They both called Moonglow home, despite his darker memories of the place, and Anmoch knew that Anne had been working diligently to earn her certification as an Adept in herbcraft with the Lycaeum. She had been immensely proud when she finally achieved that goal, and she had worn her pin openly on her uniform’s sash. To Anne, giving him that pin was giving a piece of herself – a small reminder of her and her esteem for him. She was very pleased when he accepted it.
To observant Roses at the time, they would have noted that Anne’s profile mentioned a missing pin and Anmoch’s suddenly mentioned a Lycaeum pin being added. 😉
After Anmoch retired for the night, Anne was too restless, so she met up with some of the recruits to make sure no one was getting into any mischief. The topic of promotions came up, which lead to an entertaining exchange.
Kheldar deRies: I shall congratulate you when you feel that you have earned it, Sergeant.
Kheldar deRies: Since it would be hollow until then.
Anne Savant: I earned nothing. The rank is by default.
Anne Savant: This is Sgt Flint’s job still, as far as I am concerned.
Kheldar deRies: *nods*
Kheldar deRies: You are merely keeping it warm for him.
Anne Savant: And you keep mine warm…
Anne Savant: *smirks*
Linden Kev: *blinks*
Anne Savant: *thumbs at Khel*
Kheldar deRies: *nods*
Linden Kev: Khel? Did ye just get field-promoted?
Kheldar deRies: *shakes his head*
Linden Kev: *laughs*
Anne Savant: With command’s approval, and a promotion to Armsman…
Linden Kev: I am SAE glad I’m nay a maggot!
Linden Kev: *grins*
Anne Savant: *quiet chuckle*
Kheldar deRies: Please do not tell anyone as of yet, Linden.
Linden Kev: I’ll keep it tae me’sel…. but congrats o’ a sort.
Kheldar deRies: It would be far too premature.
Kheldar deRies: *smirks*
Kheldar deRies: Congratulate me when I give it back.
Linden Kev: Careful… she may naia take it.
Anne Savant: *chuckles*
Linden Kev: She might get used tae someone else ‘avin’ tae keep e’eryone in line.
Kheldar deRies: I could kick Master Sergeant Adulphus. That should remove it quickly enough.
Anne Savant: Um, Khel…
Linden Kev: Oooh, if ye do that…. tell me.
Kheldar deRies: Hmm?
Linden Kev: I’ll sell tickets.
Anne Savant: you want a demotion, not death.
Kheldar deRies: *shrugs slightly*
Linden Kev: *grins slowly*
Kheldar deRies: True.
The Society tried to find some semblance of normalcy after the initial furor had passed just to keep the ranksÂ occupied. Anne had the approval from Command toÂ proceed in Ilshenar, but the division wasn’t ready to relocate entirely. To prepare them, Anne started with small expeditions to the neighborhood around the Twin Oaks. Some of the Roses had done preliminary scouting in the region, but Ilshenar was huge and its inhabitants largely unknown. Local creatures had a nasty habit of attacking when least expected. Anne wanted the recruits to learn and, most importantly, to figure out how to work together in a completely new environment. Given the formiddable nature of the opponents they often found, teamwork often was the only way to survive.
On a side note, I found two things funny about the whole situation, both of which had to do with the notions of teamwork that Anne and Thomas were forever driving into the heads of the recruits. The first was poor Anne getting whacked by a dragon in front of the inn while surrounded by her division mates. We determined that no one had her health bar up at the time. Oops! The second was Ryker almost nonchalantly slaying the worst creatures solo. Anne had finally stopped being amazed at the wild things Ryker would do, but she couldn’t decide if she was proud of him or annoyed at the undermining of teamwork when Lt. Kenyon had Ryker give a demonstration of his tactics to the whole division!
While she was busy in the field, Anne continued to request permission to visit Thomas. Finally, Command agreed. She traveled to Winterfell in civilian clothes, doing her best not to provoke anyone. When she arrived, she was surprised to find a woman waiting to visit Thomas ahead of her. Despite being close to Thomas in a lot of ways, he had neglected to mention that he now had a fiancee. Anne was surprised, but given how often Roses chose not to speak of their past or even their present while off-duty, she decided not to dwell on the matter. She was disappointed that her visit was cut short, but she was able to see Thomas for a moment and reassure herself that he was OK. Anne decided she would try again the next day.
When the following day came, Anne arrived at headquarters to receive a shock. Thomas was sitting with several Roses and a handful of men that she only vaguely recognized. As the Lieutenant was there, she assumed that Command knew what was afoot. Even Thomas seemed to believe that the men who had rescued him were sent on the Roses’ behalf. When it started to surface that the men may have acted on their own, Thomas insisted he return to Winterfell before his escape caused greater problems for the Society. By this time, Major Shadowspawn had arrived to take charge of the situation. He pointed out that his orders not to interfere still stood and that the men had acted of their own volition. Thomas continued to prostest that he should go back. Shadow refused and took him aside with the intent to send him and Anne to the Twin Oaks to hide. Aggrieved that things might get worse, Thomas resigned on the spot. Shadow still refused to let him leave, if only for his own safety. The Major ordered Anne to take Thomas to Ilshenar anyway. Hardly needing his orders to ensure Thomas didn’t fall into Winterfell’s hands again, Anne escorted Thomas away immediately.
At the Inn, the Sergeant and his Chief had a few moments to talk.
Anne Savant: *closes the door firmly*
Thomas: *looks around*
Thomas: Home sweet home.
Anne Savant: *sighs*
Anne Savant: Well, you may at least have company soon.
Anne Savant: And we WILL get Alexis here. I promise you that.
Anne Savant: *holds the back of the chair with both hands*
Thomas: You’re going to make a damn good Sergeant.
Anne Savant: *looks down at the tabletop*
Anne Savant: I would rather it came under different circumstances.
Thomas: You’ve earned it.
Anne Savant: *snorts quietly*
Anne Savant: *looks at him*
Anne Savant: YOU earned it. This affair is a right mess.
Anne Savant: *pulls the chair back and sits heavily*
Thomas: It was a poor moment of judgement.
Thomas: I really shouldn’t have been so stupid.
Anne Savant: I assume you mean whatever the undead did to you.
Thomas: No… not that…
Thomas: Choosing to go with those who freed me.
Anne Savant: *flicks a wrist*
Anne Savant: You had no way to know that the Major did NOT send them.
Thomas: *weak smile*
Thomas: My gut had a feeling
Thomas: And again, I didn’t follow it
Thomas: That’ll teach me
Anne Savant: *faint smile*
Anne Savant: Just make sure your gut tells you to remain here.
Anne Savant: I do not want them finding you.
Thomas then pointed out that he had been on the verge of resigning anyway, if only because he and his fiancee were planning to marry and start a family. To Anne, having Thomas returned only to lose him again so suddenly was a tough blow. He tried to salve her feelings a little by pointing out that Command had finally told him that the restrictions on their ranks had been removed. That didn’t mollify Anne much. *chuckles* But if the thought of losing Thomas again hurt Anne, Tay’s arrival shortly thereafter made her feel even worse. Tay was downright furious with all of them. In short, he felt that the Roses were abusing what he considered his old home, and he threatened to take Thomas back to Winterfell on his own if the Society didn’t. Anne was floored to hear Tay speak that way, and she tried to remind him that he was under the same Oath as she. She wanted to remind him that the person in question was a member of the Rose family, regardless of his current status. Tay wouldn’t hear of it though, and Anne was greatly pained when he took a shot at her before leaving.
Tay Trenfenwyd: And if anyone needs a healer..
Tay Trenfenwyd: It’s not my job.
Never in her life did Anne want to antagonize Tay. That was definitely one of the low points in her life, given as close of a friend she’ d come to consider him.
Shortly after Tay departed in anger, Thomas decided to get some rest, so Anne left him in peace at the inn. So worried about what had happened with Tay, she immediately went in search of his wife, Sin (short for Ssin’urn), who was another of the Roses. Anne explained what had happened and asked Sin if she could help in any way. Sin offered to do what she could. It was about the best Anne could hope for at the time. Thankfully, the rift between Anne and Tay wouldn’t be long-lived.
So with Thomas in hiding, and Tay ticked off at her, Anne resumed her role as the acting Sergeant for the 251st while Command and everyone else figured out what the hell to do next. For the Recruits, things continued with the campaign in Ilshenar. Anne took the opportunity to gather more information from Thomas when she saw him, so she could better understand what he had envisioned for the division while they were there.
Poor Possessed Dack
Of course, no event could last long without being pre-empted by another, even if temporarily. After an outing into the wilds surrounding the Twin Oaks, the recruits were relaxing and getting more familiar with what would become their base camp for a while. Anne and Thomas were discussing the connections between Rikktor, a massive dragon rumored to lair nearby, and another creature named Fang that Thomas was seeking. Dack Tyler, a Private 2nd Class, had gotten into the liquor at the bar in the inn, and after almost passing out, Anne had Kheldar haul him upstairs to sleep it off. To everyone’s suprise, a series of explosions were heard from the upstairs room shortly thereafter. Moments later, Dack appeared at the top of the stairs with a knife to Kheldar’s throat.
I should point out that this incident was only one in a series that Dack had been working on for some time. Like many other things, Anne had missed quite a bit of it until then. From what she had gathered from the other Roses, Dack had been having several lapses where he would become violent or just behave strangely. Anne knew the Medics had looked at Dack previously, and Anne had been with him to visit one of the shrines when the Major ordered everyone to go. She had no reason to suspect anything else was still wrong with him.
Everyone jumped to their feet to figure out how to subdue Dack and help Kheldar. Dack began speaking in a strange voice, claiming loudly that if he attacked Winterfell while cloaked as Dack, a Rose, he could get the attention of the other Undead and perhaps be restored to his own form. A standoff ensued, with the Roses preventing his escape. Finally, Kheldar used one of his exploding pouches (which were standard issue to break paralysis spells) to distract Dack. While the ploy got him free from Dack and the knife, Dack was still able to start tossing explosive potions, one of which landed right in front of Anne.
Dack Tyler: *throws explosives*
Anne Savant: Tackle him!
Anne Savant: Dack Tyler is attacking you!
Dack Tyler: Ssss!!!
Linden Kev: *pins him against the wall, still pushing forward*
Kheldar deRies: *grabs at Dack*
Dack Tyler: *triggers as many as he can*
Anne Savant: *throws up an arm*
Anne Savant: *hisses in pain*
Kheldar deRies: *grabs at Dack*
Linden Kev: GOOD NIGHT!
Anne Savant: Hold him still!
Anne Savant: *holds her arm*
Thomas: *looks her over*
Anne Savant: Damn it all.
Anne Savant: *growls*
Anne Savant: I HATE fire at close range.
Thankfully, the damage was minor, and it happened to her left arm rather than her right. Other than scorched armor and first degree burns, Anne came out of it fine. But she was exceedingly pissed off to be that close to fire so soon!
In the confusion following the explosives, Dack managed to win free and escape outside. The Roses tried to pursue, but the local creatures were very touchy and attacked often. A few of the recruits (including Anne at one point) were knocked down while trying to capture their wayward member. Finally, after a long chase, Ryker was able to knock Dack senseless. They tied him securely and dragged him back to headquarters. Unfortunately, none of the mages were available immediately to take a look at him, so poor Dack stayedÂ chained down for a while. For the next week or so, poor Dack remained imprisoned at headquarters. Although everyone wanted to find someone who could help him, the plotline got muddled with everything else. I don’t think it was ever brought to a satisfactory conclusion. 🙁
The only bright point in the next few days was Anne running into Tay again. Although he was embroiled in a dispute between the Lieutenant and Pagan, he took a moment to apologize to Anne for his behavior, and Anne apologized to him as well. It was a very brief exchange because of the circumstances, but she was immensely relieved to know he wasn’t harboring long-term ill feelings toward her. That was one less sorrow on her shoulders!
On to Sergeant
The rest of Anne’s tenure as Chief of the 251st would end up being very routine. She continued with Thomas’s plans for Ilshenar, and the Recruits did manage to establish a presence there for a while. Some of the other divisions also made forays there, which led to some entertaining exploration of the landscape. But not surprisingly, given how things often worked behind the scenes, Anne was never actually formally promoted. I just happened to log in one day and her title had been changed. *grins*
And so Anne moved on to another phase of her life in the Society. Sergeant would be the highest rank she ever attained, and she would remain so until almost a real-world year later. The events between her promotion and her eventual retirement are a whole other story.